Hand-made classic sports car manufacturer Mirage Automotive Developments is in pole position to drive global sales, thanks to a £25,000 loan from Lancashire County Council’s Rosebud Micro fund.
The loan has strengthened the Lancashire-based business’ cash flow position, enabling managing director Matthew Potts to accelerate production of the left-hand drive (LHD) variant of the Mirage GT model for overseas markets.
Mirage Automotive Developments is a new car manufacturer offering modern engineered vehicles with early 60s classical looks and features. The business was formed in 2016, although the initial idea, design, prototyping and manufacture of ‘car number one’ had been ongoing since 2009.
The business currently manufactures one model, the Mirage GT. Every car is hand-made in the firm’s Westby factory and – for a limited time – vehicles can also be purchased in component form for self-assembly.
The company is currently making car number seven. It has capacity to produce between six and ten vehicles a year but is looking to expand its premises and workforce to meet rising demand.
Matthew said: “As orders for more vehicles were being taken, it was obvious there would be some early cash flow problems due to the nature of the supply chain and suppliers’ terms. Some form of cash flow relief was needed, and various options were available.
“Not wanting to raise money in exchange for equity in the company, a short-term cash flow loan was the most appropriate solution. We came across Rosebud having found information on the internet about local authority backed schemes. After an initial discussion with Access to Finance adviser Jonathan Nelson, this seemed like the right path for us.”
Matthew then met Sue Roberts from the Rosebud team, who structured the loan. After signing the final paperwork, the funds were available in less than a week.
Rosebud is delivered in association with Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub. Led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council, Boost is supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Matthew continued: “The loan has certainly helped with cash flow. It’s given us the flexibility to renegotiate terms and contracts with some of our bigger suppliers to alleviate future cash flow restrictions.
“As a result we have been able to get the early vehicles manufactured on time, which has allowed us to accelerate our LHD product variant. Because of this, we have been able to bring the launch of our LHD GT forward to November 2018 and start taking orders for LHD vehicles as we start to grow the business.”
As Matthew and his team move into 2019, he expects turnover to rise significantly as sales for RHD and LHD vehicles increase. At present, the business has more than 20 customers who have expressed strong interest in purchasing LHD vehicles worldwide.
Matthew added: “The support from Rosebud has been excellent. From the very beginning of the process and the initial discussions, to the engagement with the Rosebud team and the contacts they have introduced us to.
“Not only has the loan money provided cash flow relief and allowed us to accelerate our product range, but it’s been the help we needed to allow the business to grow and expand our sales and brand globally.”
County councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “Smaller manufacturing companies have great growth potential and we’re always proud to hear of success stories where Rosebud’s involvement has helped to kickstart the company on their next growth stage.
“It’s also great to hear that companies are growing and creating new jobs for local people, which brings wider economic benefits.
“Rosebud Micro is part of Boost, Lancashire’s business growth hub, which offers many different ways to help companies to find the support for their growth and ambitions that works for them. We would encourage Boost to be part of your Growth Conversation.”
Boost Business Lancashire has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.